Supporting NETL’s Advanced Fuels Program Peer Review

Client: American Society of Mechanical Engineers, in support of the National Energy Technology Laboratory
rail cars of coal Advanced Fuels scoring graph Advanced Fuels peer review report covers NETL peer review website

Project Overview

In October 2010, Nexight Group worked with the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) to conduct a rigorous peer review of 19 projects, totaling $65 million in federal R&D funding, of the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) Advanced Fuels Program.

Need

A primary focus of the NETL Advanced Fuels Program is to reduce technology barriers for the reliable, efficient, and environmentally friendly conversion of coal to hydrogen for utilization in advanced integrated gasification combined cycle systems. Hydrogen has the potential to play a significant role in the nation’s energy future, particularly for the production of clean electric power from coal. In compliance with requirements from the Office of Management and Budget, NETL worked with ASME to plan a peer review meeting with independent technical experts to assess ongoing Advanced Fuels Program research projects and, where applicable, to make recommendations for individual project improvement.

Our Solution

To help ASME facilitate and document the NETL Advanced Fuels Program peer review, we assembled our team of five writers and technical experts to attend the peer review meeting. During the five-day meeting, principal investigators presented 19 projects selected from the NETL Carbon Storage Program to a panel of seven expert reviewers. These projects represented a portfolio of fundamental science, national laboratory research, and large-scale industry projects in the following focus areas:

  • Advanced membrane separation systems
  • Co-production of advanced fuels with coal and biomass
Following each presentation, we facilitated question-and-answer discussions with the principal investigators and the reviewers as well as discussions of the strengths, weaknesses, recommendations, and action items for each of the projects. This facilitation kept the peer review agenda on track and made sure each project was adequately reviewed. Using notes taken during meeting discussions and electronic comments provided by each reviewer, we developed two 100-page reports that synthesized the reviewers’ feedback into concise, technically accurate, and actionable summaries. The first report—the meeting summary and recommendations report—will be published on the NETL peer review website. NETL will use the second report—an internal report with the reviewer comments on individual projects, including nearly 150 recommendations and action items to strengthen projects—to guide and redirect the Advanced Fuels Program projects, as appropriate.

Impact

The Advanced Fuels Program peer review involved the independent review of more than $65 million in federal R&D funding. The results from this peer review will be used to strengthen the 19 projects reviewed, improving the value generated by the investment of public R&D funds and ultimately increasing the likelihood of reliable, efficient, and environmentally friendly conversion of coal to hydrogen for the U.S. energy sector.